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Burning Man Journal
All the News That's Fit to Burn — Summer 2002

Clean Up Report Card for 2001

Will Roger, director of our Department of Public Works, posted the following report to Burning Man staff members on May 13, 2002:

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"We passed the 2001 site inspection! Yesterday at 9AM we met the BLM (led by NCA Manager Dave Cooper), several Earth Guardians, some Friends of the Black Rock Desert, BLM Volunteers, DPW managers, Flynn and Marian, to execute three transects on the 2001 Burning Man event site. This time the weather was perfect. We drove out to the spot where the Man stood to organize the line sweeps. Roger, from the Cedarville BLM office, had identified five random locations. We chose three and started out on our first transect. The first location began at Oblivion and 5 o 'clock and went toward the Esplanade. Each transect is 150' wide and 1000'long. We stretched out a 150'rope with knots tied every 10', where a line sweeper is located and walked together picking up anything in our path. The first transect collected about 1 square foot of MOOP. Pretty damned good, since this was entirely within a major population center in Black Rock City. The second transect went from approximately 7 o 'clock and Child toward 5 o'clock, just behind Center Camp, another area of heavy use. On the second sweep, we collected even less debris! The third transect went from approximately 8:30 and Oblivion out toward the trash fence, a no-camping area. We collected even less. When we spread out the collected debris from all three transects, we had about 3. 5 square feet of litter, or 2 square less than the allowable standard for one transect alone. We passed with 'flying colors.' The MOOP consisted of one long rebar stake, several smaller tent stakes, gutter spikes, bottle caps, plastic pieces, wood chips, pistachio nut shells, bangles, beads, nails, screws, and staples. No significant burn scars were visible. 2001 is our best cleanup effort yet. Huge thanks go to the entire Burning Man community and especially to the Clean Up Crew."

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The first inspection of our event site was conducted shortly after our event. The second inspection described by Will Roger is routinely undertaken in the spring in order to detect debris that may resurface on the playa after winter rains. Our final grade, by any measure, was an A. This success would not have been possible without the cooperation of our citizens. In 2001, participants adopted the Leave No Trace ethos as never before. However, these inspections were preceded by weeks of diligent effort by our Clean Up Crew. These dedicated folks patrol the playa surface using the inspection method that's described in this report, but the grid they walk isn't random. It covers every inch of the desert floor. They stoop to pick up glinting glass fragments, boa feathers, trinkets, tent stakes, nutshells and a thousand other items that are left at campsites and in public places by participants. The citizens of Black Rock City did a very good job this year and deserve a B-. This is a very good grade. Congratulations! But grades, if they are truly useful, are really only guides for future improvement. In 2002, let's try for a B+! Below are some helpful hints about doing your part. Many new participants will attend our event this year. Please help to educate them.

Please help to improve our GPA!

Eliminate MOOP - Matter Out Of Place

  • Don't let it hit the ground.
  • Take home everything you brought to the event.
  • Clean as you go.
  • Contribute two hours to public clean-up on Sunday.
  • Never burn anything on the unprotected playa.
  • Never Ever dump garbage in the Port-a-Potties.

Pistachio Shells, Wood Chips & Cigarette Butts are the three biggest MOOP offenders.

  • Eat pre-shelled pistachios.
  • Do your wood projects on top of a canvas drop cloth and clean as you go.
  • Carry a tin or film canister in which to put your cigarette butts, or put them in your pocket.

For further information on how to minimize trash, and other tips on doing your part to keep the playa clean, please read the following:
Garbage & Recycling and Environment
Rebar 101
Burn Scars on the Playa
How to Reduce Trash
Lighter Better Smelling Trash
and Recycling info.